UPDATE: First Look at Replacement For This Albany Historic Bridge
The Capital Region has a new look and timetable for the $400 million structure that will replace a century old piece of Albany's economic and transportation history.
Governor Kathy Hochul has released a statement with further details about the planned removal and replacement of the Livingston Avenue Bridge. Located south of the existing bridge, the new crossover will have two railroad tracks, allowing for increased Amtrak passenger trains and CSX freight at higher speeds than the currently allowed 15mph.
One feature most requested by the public for a new bridge or in renovations to the existing one was the addition of walkways. The new bridge will include a shared bike/pedestrian use path that connects the Albany Skyway, Empire State Trail, and Rensselaer.
The current "swing-style" drawbridge, where a section of the span turns to allow ships through, will not be included in the new construction, opting for a more traditional raising drawbridge.
The statement says the bridge was built in 1865, but the current iteration over the Hudson was built in 1901 and 1902. All mentions of the Livingston Avenue Bridge as a "19th Century Relic" or "Civil-War era" are erroneous.
Construction is scheduled to begin in late 2023 and should be completed by 2026.
Two required public hearings have been scheduled by the NY Department of Transportation. One virtual hearing will be held on Wednesday, May 31 at 6p at this Zoom link. An in-person hearing will be Thursday, June 1 at 6p at Albany's Palace Theatre.
State Senator Neil Breslin (44th District) says the public hearings, "will provide an important opportunity for community members to provide input regarding the future of the bridge and a vision for what the replacement will include."
5/5/22: For more than a century, it’s been an essential part of Albany’s transportation and industrial history.
It’s been praised, maligned, dismissed, and reassessed by Capital Region citizens and politicians. It’s even been hit by a cruise ship.
But now, after 120 years, it seems the current iteration of the Livingston Avenue Bridge’s days are finally numbered.
Up to $400 million of the $32.8 billion New York State Department of Transportation capital infrastructure improvement project budget has been allocated for the bridge’s replacement. The announcement came tucked into Governor Kathy Hochul’s speech at the ribbon cutting of the new Albany Skyway less than a quarter mile away.
The Livingston Avenue Bridge has been on the local infrastructure to-do list for decades. The bridge’s age and condition mean that passenger and freight trains can only cross one at a time at a top speed of 15mph. The first survey to repair or replace taken in 1998 by the Capital District Transportation Committee. That survey estimated a $50 million price tag on a new structure.
The New York State Department of Transportation says the bridge is critical to its Empire Corridor rail line, so the only two options were repair or replace. The replacement will be able to better serve modern Amtrak passenger trains and CSX and CP Rail freight with multiple tracks allowing higher speeds. Another feature of the new bridge is to connect Rensselaer and Albany by foot and bicycle with a pedestrian walkway.
This would be only the second time this span over the Hudson has been replaced. The original bridge was built in 1864, for Cornelius Vanderbilt’s Hudson River Railroad to service the Albany Lumber District. The current variation was built by New York Central Railroad and the American Bridge Company in 1901 and opened in 1902.
CSX has ownership of the bridge, but it’s currently under Amtrak control on a long-term lease. The bridge is staffed 24/7 to monitor train traffic and open for ships, which pass through about 400 times per year.
In 2019, the Livingston Avenue Bridge became famous for a ship that didn’t pass correctly – when the cruise ship Captain JP III crashed into and became stuck under the bridge due to ice jams.
A formal public hearing will be held in June, with the location and day yet to be revealed.